With European Union (EU) ministers struggling to make headway over Brexit, British Prime Minister Theresa May will attempt to put negotiations back on track Monday as talks resume in Brussels.
The British leader is expected to tell other EU countries that the “ball is in their court” in the ongoing debate over the U.K.’s departure from the bloc. Britain and its EU counterparts have already met four times to discuss an exit deal, but have failed to make any progress. Royal Bank of Scotland Chair Sir Howard Davis has warned that Downing Street has only six months to secure a transition deal. A failure to do so will lead RBS and other companies to start relocating jobs out of London.
The 27 remaining EU members will decide on 19-20 October whether enough progress has been made to continue talks on a future trade relationship.
In the meantime, Prime Minister May is under pressure to disclose secret legal advice she received that would allow government to halt Brexit before the March 2019 deadline. While pro-remain MPs have criticized the government’s “kamikaze” approach to Brexit, ministers insist that halting Brexit is not on option given that the Article 50 process is under way. Prime Minister May triggered the exit clause on 29 March, giving the U.K. two years to formulate a new trade agreement with Brussels.
May is expected to tell the House on Monday that the U.K. wants a “new, deep and special partnership” with the EU.
She will also add: “Achieving that partnership will require leadership and flexibility, not just from us but from our friends, the 27 nations of the EU. And as we look forward to the next stage, the ball is in their court. But I am optimistic we will receive a positive response.”
However, the EU may demand that Britain put more money on the table to cover its obligations for the last two years of Brussels’ budget cycle. This means that the €20 billion pledged already won’t be enough to satisfy demands of the EU27.
The outlook on Brexit is more uncertain than ever, as the Conservative party struggles to implement a clear strategy following the election gaffe this past June. Instead of building on their majority as May intended, the Conservatives lost seats in the snap election, forcing them to unite with the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland.